#LatinosTeach, Recognizing Jozette Martinez


Jozette Martinez is in her third life as a high school teacher. She teaches 6th through 12th grade in Denver, CO. West Generation Academy is one of three schools under the same roof, and the campus where she teaches is the same place her parents met and fell in love.

Coming from industry, with a degree in English, business was always her passion. As a young executive, she was a trainer and facilitator, often in front of employees, teaching, assisting them in their professional growth, helping them discover their full potential. She eventually ventured out and became a thriving entrepreneur. Being a natural teacher her whole life, after closing her business, she received an alternative license and headed for the classroom.

As one of very few teachers of color, serving a 98% free and reduced lunch population of which 99 % are Latino and Black students, Jozette understands that her students live with a unique set of challenges, but it is the best job she’s ever had. She loves creating relationships with students and is often deemed “tough, but fair,” and students know that they will be loved by her and expected to work hard in her class.

Jozette wears many hats. She serves on the district accountability council, an advisory board for the superintendent and the school board of Denver district 1, and she is also a teacher ambassador for the district, meeting with and transitioning teachers of color into the district. She is also a district trainer for Beyond Common Core initiatives, and has worked on developing Career and Technical Education curriculum and assessments.

She is an adjunct professor at a local community college, which allows her to offer college credit for many of her business classes as early as the 9th grade. Finally, Jozette is a blogger for CTQ (Center for Teaching Quality) and Teacher Leader Trainer for the Social Justice Strand of the Teacher Leader Initiative through NEA. She is an America Achieves Fellow and was recently selected as one of 25 teachers nationwide to run a pilot program for project management and design. She has also recently won an award for the Redesign Challenge and is working toward using technology as part of teacher professional development.

Why do I teach?

I teach because it is important for students of color to see themselves in areas of management and supervision. I want to be a role model for my students, and I want to teach them how to thrive in a predominantly white world, while still holding on to and practicing their culture.

What do you love about teaching?

I love seeing kids progress through their learning and getting to know them. I love seeing the look when my students are ‘getting it’; the look of the lightbulb being lit is thrilling!

Was there a teacher that inspired you?

My sixth grade year I was very fortunate to have three very supportive teachers who often co-taught. Mr. Lee was my math teacher, and he found a way to make something intimidating fun and engaging. Ms. Ives was my language arts teacher and she introduced me to incredible writers and instilled a love of words, poetry and musicality in writing. My most favorite was Ms. Weiss. She wrote in my elementary yearbook “I can’t wait to say, ‘I remember her when.’” She is the one who taught science, but also moved in to culture, psychology, life skills and the like. Together, these teachers helped me to realize my full potential, and to this day I am friends with them. I think of them often when I am with my own students.